Details of Disappearance
Shinn was last seen in Magnolia, Arkansas on July 20, 1978. She owned an art studio on Magnolia Street and taught regular classes there. She was trying to sell a house on east McNeil Street and had advertised about it in the newspaper.
Authorities believe she showed the house to an unknown man at 4:00 p.m. on July 19. He reportedly wanted to trade her house for a parcel of land he owned on Taylor Highway, nine miles south of town, but Shinn didn't seem to think the transaction would go through.
At 11:00 a.m. on July 20, however, Shinn got a call from the man and he said he wanted to see the house again. He told her his car was in for repairs and he needed to take a cab to east McNeil Street.
They agreed to meet at the EZ Mart across the street from Shinn's art studio, and they would go together to the house at east McNeil Street. Shinn told a friend to expect her back by 1:30 p.m. She has never been heard from again.
A carpenter who'd been working across the street from the house Shinn was selling recalled having seen her with a man on the day of her disappearance. He placed the sighting between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.
The man is described the man as Caucasian, 25 to 28 years old with dark-brown collar-length hair, a medium-length beard and mustache, 6'1 - 6'2 tall and 215 - 225 pounds. The man wore a mesh baseball cap and drove a dark green Pontiac with a lighter green vinyl top, possibly a 1969 - 1970 or 1972 Bonneville or Catalina model.
Police are uncertain whether the man the witness described actually had anything to do with Shinn's disappearance, however; a neighbor who took his lunch break at 11:30 a.m. that day closely resembled the witness description and they think the carpenter may have seen him instead.
A more promising sighting came from a young girl who was at the EZ Mart at 11:00 a.m. the day of Shinn's disappearance. She said a man came in and asked for a quarter to make a phone call, spoke on the pay phone for five minutes and left.
Because this corresponds to known facts about Shinn's disappearance, investigators believe the man this witness saw may have been the man who was supposed to meet Shinn. He is described as Caucasian, in his mid-twenties with dark curly hair, approximately 5'8 tall and 185 - 200 pounds.
Shinn's blue 1976 Buick Special was found unlocked with the keys inside it at Smitty's Grocery on the afternoon of her disappearance. Two employees at the store said they saw it there at 1:00 p.m., but the police didn't secure it until 5:00 or 6:00. A photo of the car is posted with this case summary. By the time law enforcement got control of the vehicle, several people had been inside it and may have disturbed a potential crime scene.
Authorities stated the items found inside the car indicated Shinn hadn't left of her own accord. There was Shinn's navy blue denim purse, emptied out on the driver's side floor with its contents scattered; Shinn's white canvas sneakers pushed under the gas and brake pedals, a pair of sunglasses and a novel. Shinn's wallet was there with some cash inside, but her address book was missing.
The rear left fender of the Buick had deep scratches in the paint and inside the car were seeds and bits of grass; investigators believe it was driven into a meadow.
The man Shinn was supposed to see on the day of her disappearance has never been identified, although various suspects' names have surfaced over the years. In spite of an extensive investigation, there's been no trace of Shinn since 1978. Foul play is suspected in her disappearance.